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South Australia - Organisation

Women's Australian National Services (1940 - 1997)

Care Provider
Alternative Names
  • WANS (Acronym)

The Women's Australian National Services (WANS) was a national scheme to coordinate the utilisation of specialised skills among women for the war effort, established in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, in 1940. The WANS in South Australia was formed in 1941, as a voluntary service that provided training for women to be able to fill jobs left empty by men who were on war service. After World War Two, WANS opened the Wanslea Children's Home in Adelaide in 1946 and ran it for over 40 years. The WANS organisation wound up its affairs in 1997.


During World Two, the WANS in South Australia trained women in shooting and motor mechanics. The WANS women became a valuable volunteer force in Adelaide who could be drafted in for a wide variety of jobs, including catering for community events or soldiers in transit, as well as more traditionally feminine tasks such as caring for children.

After the War, WANS opened the Wanslea Children's Home. Initially from 1946 it was at the Payneham Private Hospital, and then in 1958 Wanslea moved to premises on Cross Road, Kingswood.


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Dietrich, June, 'Women's Voluntary Services - an important part of the war effort', in Archives Outside, 23 September 2009,; George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005,

Prepared by: Ann McCarthy & Sarah Black